No. 2 Duke vs No. 7 South Carolina Preview
Where: Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville
When: Sunday, March 19, 8:40 PM ET
TV Broadcast: TNT
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Betting on the Duke Blue Devils (-7.5)
Duke’s quest for a sixth national championship is off to a solid start after trouncing the Troy Trojans, 87-65, in the Round of 64 on Friday. It was a dominating performance by the Blue Devils who improved to 34-7 all-time in opening NCAA Tournament games.
Four players scored in double-figures for the Blue Devils, who shot a solid 46.8 percent from the field. Grayson Allen led the way for Duke in this contest, scoring 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor. Jayson Tatum also continued his excellent postseason, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 boards.
Next up for Duke is a round-of-32 clash with No. 7 South Carolina. This will be the first NCAA Tournament showdown between the two sides, which last played in 2001 as part of the Maui Invitational. Duke won that contest, 81-56. Before that meeting, it had been almost 30 years since these two teams locked horns.
For the Blue Devils to grab the all-important victory this coming Sunday, they will need to continue their excellent play on the defensive end. Coach K’s men held the Trojans to just 24-of-59 shooting on Friday. They locked down on Troy’s perimeter gunners with the Trojans going just 5-of-23 from downtown.
The Blue Devils are 5-0 ATS in their last five games.
Betting on the South Carolina Gamecocks (+7.5)
South Carolina barged into the second round of the national tournament with a resounding 93-73 win over No. 10 Marquette on Friday. It was an emotional victory for the Gamecocks, who won their first NCAA Tournament game since 1973.
To no one’s surprise, it was Sindarius Thornwell who stole the show for South Carolina in this contest. He scored 29 points and grabbed 11 boards as he dissected the Golden Eagles defense time and again. Thornwell, the SEC player of the year, has been magnificent for the Gamecocks this season, leading the team not only in scoring (21.3 PPG), but also in rebounds (7.3 RPG) and steals (2.2 SPG) as well.
Things are bound to get tougher, for Thornwell and co., though, as standing in their way in the round of 32 are the talented Duke Blue Devils. Duke enters this clash boasting the eighth-most efficient offense in the country. According to Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings, Duke has an adjusted offensive rating of 121.0 points per 100 possessions.
That won’t faze the Gamecocks, though, who proudly possess one of the nation’s best defenses. They are 29th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 64.7 points per game this season. South Carolina is even better when it comes to adjusted defensive efficiency with the Gamecocks allowing just 88.7 points per 100 possessions.
The Gamecocks will need to do a much better job with their perimeter defense, however, if they are to upset Duke. South Carolina allowed Marquette to shoot 11-of-28 threes in the first round. That spells trouble against the Blue Devils, who knocked down a whopping 13 3-pointers in their first-round win against Troy. That’s their highest total in nine games since hitting the same amount in a victory over Wake Forest on February 18.
South Carolina is 4-6 SU and 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games.
Duke (-7.5) not only wins but also covers the spread against South Carolina.
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